The Power of Your Eyes
“Close your eyes, tune into your body. Notice what your body is telling you. What are you feeling in your body. “ These were the words with which our yoga instructor opened her class. Yogis know that to quiet the mind, one’s attention needs to be drawn into the body – and that one’s attention inward is facilitated by closing one’s eyes.
Of course, my eyes were already closed – I’ve discovered that if I want to be present to the “Now” or “in the moment” and my eyes are open, my brain doesn’t want to disengage.
So what’s the connection with dance?
Many of us who dance want use our own bodies to re-create what we see when we watch others dance exquisitely. The problem with trying to re-create what we think we see is that we often overdo or don’t understand the micro-movements that lead to such beautiful dancing.
And in ballroom dancing, that problem is compounded by the fact that we dance in partnership. So now there are two people attempting to re-create – and they often haven’t even discussed what they thought they saw – let alone how to lead or follow.
Which brings me back to the eyes. I have learned that my eyes are both useful and a hindrance to my dancing. Yes, my eyes help me to learn the patterns of the steps and exercises to improve my technique. My eyes also distract – I am less attuned to feeling a subtle lead in a new pattern when my eyes are open. I’ve also learned that if I want to “feel” the emotions that music evokes in me so that I can express those emotions through movement, I need to close my eyes.
So, in many instances, the act of closing my eyes in dance enables me to “feel” and “see” more deeply – thus enhancing my ability to move my body in dance. Weird, isn’t it?